Why It's in Bashar's Interest to Exaggerate Golan Deaths

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff offer some context about casualty figures on the Golan Heights:

A cautionary note is necessary. The IDF has no real way to estimate, in real time, the number of fatalities on the other side. But the Syrian government - through its media - has a clear interest in exaggerating the number of casualties to have the border incidents overshadow Syrian President Bashar Assad's ongoing massacre of anti-government protesters. Just yesterday, according to opposition forces, at least 35 Syrians were killed by their own security forces during protests in the north. Over the weekend, more than 70 were killed across the country.

It was difficult to take seriously the accusations on Syrian television of an Israeli massacre while, day after day, the deaths caused by the Syrian government are ignored. Apparently at least some of the fatalities in the Golan Heights yesterday were injured by a fire in the Golan town of Quneitra a few hundred meters from the border and were not directly related to the IDF.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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